Gavin Newsom Embodies California Liberalism

Gavin newsomGavin Newsom — the former San Francisco mayor, current lieutenant governor, and likely next governor of California — embodies Golden State liberalism: the perfect appearance, the bear-hug embrace of identity politics, the celebration of Silicon Valley moguls tempered by hand-wringing about income inequality, the grandiose, fanciful plans for building the state into a modern utopia.

This is no accident. For better or for worse, Newsom has already done a lot to shape modern California. As San Francisco’s mayor from 2004 to 2011, he pushed the outer boundary of Democratic party politics leftward. His first gubernatorial-campaign ad reminded viewers that he issued same-sex marriage licenses way back in 2004, in calculated defiance of state law. As mayor, he banned plastic bags, the use of Styrofoam in restaurants’ takeout containers, and sales of cigarettes in convenience stores, pharmacies, grocery stories, and big-box stores. He signed laws mandating composting and requiring retailers to display the radiation levels of the cellphones they sold. He gave 400 city employees the authority to write citations for littering. He proposed, but never succeeded in passing, a surcharge on all drinks with high-fructose corn syrup.

Since taking over as lieutenant governor in 2011, Newsom hasn’t had a ton of governing responsibility. In 2012 and 2013, he found the time to host a weekly show on Al Gore’s old Current TV. The Los Angeles Times’ limp endorsement of Newsom in 2014 is unintentionally hilarious: “Being lieutenant governor mostly serves as a perch for gubernatorial candidates-in-waiting. Nevertheless, voters are asked every four years to choose among the aspirants, so here goes . . .”

With little to do in his day job, for the past few years Newsom put his energies into promoting state initiatives. In 2016, he supported and the state adopted Proposition 47, which made just about any crime involving less than $950 — shoplifting, grand theft, forgery, fraud, receiving stolen property or writing bad checks — a misdemeanor for sentencing instead of a felony. Also that year he proposed Proposition 63, prohibiting the possession of large-capacity gun magazines and requiring certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition. The measure passed, but in June 2017, a federal judge issued an injunction, saying that it probably violates the U.S. Constitution. (California’s attorney general is appealing the injunction.)

Yet as Newsom and his like-minded allies unleashed a cornucopia of bans and restrictions and mandates from San Francisco and Sacramento, quite a few Californians started falling out of love with the state. More Americans are leaving California than joining it, concluding that the cost of living, taxes, regulation, traffic, and other problems are just too unbearable, despite the gorgeous coastlines and weather and everything else that once made the Golden State so golden. The state has the highest poverty rate in the country after accounting for its stratospheric cost of living, and the second-highest housing costs, behind only Hawaii.

All of this is probably something of an abstraction to Newsom. His has been a life of privilege that would get a typical Republican office-seeker torn to shreds. His grandfather, William Newsom, was close friends with Pat Brown, the governor of California from 1959 to 1967 and the father of current governor Jerry Brown. His father, also named William, attended St. Ignatius prep school with oil heir Gordon Getty. In 1975, Jerry Brown picked the younger William Newsom to be a state judge. He remained a close, trusted friend to the Getty family, and when young Gavin Newsom had entrepreneurial dreams, the Gettys were happy to invest. In 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle found that “Getty, or trusts and firms he controls, is lead investor on 10 of Newsom’s 11 businesses.”

Newsom likes to describe himself as a small-business owner with “a strong bias for entrepreneurs, a strong bias for those putting themselves on the line and taking risks.” One wonders just how risky a business venture can be when the Getty family and their fortune is so consistently ready to help out. …

Click here to read the full article from the National Review